Virginia Tech is interested in spreading the wealth around. The wealth in this case is access to National LambaRail (NLR), a lightning fast, high-capacity
research network that enables students and researchers to work together no matter where they’re located.
Virginia Tech IT personnel recently collaborated with Radford University and New River Community College (NRCC) to build the Multimedia Services Access
Point. This switch facility will allow Radford and the community college to tap into Virginia Tech’s pipeline to the closest NLR node (in McLean) and get
low-cost, commercial Internet service.
“You’re talking about speeds that are literally millions of times faster than the typical broadband residential connection,” says Jeff Crowder, program
director for IT at Virginia Tech. He notes LambdaRail has negotiated arrangements with popular content providers like Google, Yahoo and YouTube so that users
can go directly to those Web servers. “With our system, these schools are just one hop away from the peerage fabric that’s in McLean, which has pretty deep
implications for performance and cost reduction.”
Crowder says that the MSAP represents a new kind of model for the development of rural broadband access. “It’s pretty expensive and daunting to try to go out
and spur the creation of fiber optic networks across long distances,” he says. “What we’ve simply done is set up this beachhead, so to speak, and the other
schools just have to work with their fiber optic providers and broadband service providers to figure out how to get to the switch facility — rather than all
the way to McLean.”
The new arrangement will allow students and researchers at NRCC and Radford to take advantage of NLR’s capacity for higher-end applications and the quick
transmission of huge computational, video and graphics files.
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